Rodeoers have long careers in mind

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks Jared Smith of Ranger, Texas, holds on tight Friday night in the bareback bronc riding competition on top of Hello Dolly at the 38th Annual Clovis Pioneer Days Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.

By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent

Illusions of invincibility are part of the realm of a young man. It doesn’t take very much falling off horses or getting rammed by steers to change a mind though.

Ryan Gray and Josh Peek are two cowboys in their 20s who did very well on day two of the 38th annual Pioneer Days rodeo in Clovis and they’re also a pair of individuals who have very well-defined ideas of how to stay competitive.

Most of their beliefs on how to have a long career in the business center around two things: Exercise and eating as healthy as possible.

Granted, that’s a natural goal for most of society, but it’s doubly difficult for those on the rodeo circuit.

After Gray posted the best score of the rodeo so far in bareback bronc riding, getting an 86 on Friday, the 24-year-old said that he drove to Clovis from his home north of Lubbock earlier in the day.

That’s not how it always is though. Gray was scheduled to leave for Roswell early Saturday morning and was readying himself for a stretch of non-stop rodeo action – and travel – over the next two months.

“Ninety-eight percent of the rodeos we go to, we’re on the road for four or five days,” Gray said. “You can’t make it very long in this sport if you’re not striving to be an athlete as well as a good competitor. Part of being an athlete is taking care of your body.”

Part of the eating regimen for Gray, who normally travels with four other cowboys, is avoiding fast foods. Eating more expensive meals is a trade-off Gray says he’s willing to make in order to get more solid fare.

On the other hand, his exercise habit is one part predictable and another part quite unorthodox.

“I like to get there about an hour before the first event and get a good stretch in,” Gray says. “If we’re staying in a hotel where there’s a gym, we’ll hit that. If not, our group of guys will play hacky sack about eight hours a day, off and on. About two hours before the rodeo, we’ll all get together and play hacky sack. It can loosen you up and get your blood flowing.”

Peek on Friday night posted the best overall time in the steer wrestling by getting a 4.0.

The Colorado native came in to Clovis on Thursday night and had the luxury of being in the area all day before his time came in the performance. Peek, though, also was heading for Roswell for competition Saturday morning and was planning to end up in Denver by the time the day was over.

Like Gray, Peek also travels as part of a group of five cowboys — including two of his brothers.

“We all try to work out, get three square meals,” said Peek, whose traveling gear includes a set of free weights that the cowboys use at their trailer when they get the chance. “We do push ups, sit ups, stuff you can do right around the rig.

“We try to eat the good foods, stay away from sweets. We don’t have any pop in the rig,” Peek, 28, added. “We don’t always stay away from it. We break down sometimes. I had a Dr. Pepper at lunch today, but we also had a steak and a good salad.”

According to Gray: “The old days, they used to tough it up and I do that more than I should sometimes. But we only have one body and we’ve got to take care of it.”